Defense 14 wins over $150,000 for Employees in Saint Louis
There was always a practice of the Saint Louis call site that if our location stayed open until 8pm employees had the option of working up to 4 hours of overtime, (if they got off at 4pm.) There was never a limit of how many people worked, or the number of hours. In other words people weren’t kept from working overtime based on seniority. If you volunteered to work you worked for whatever amount of time you volunteered to stay for. In 2010, management decided to put a limit on the amount of hours employees could work. This was not based on seniority or anything else we could determine. Not even workload demand. They simply went to a 2 hour a day or 10 hr a week limit for everyone. The union argued first that this was a change in practice which required bargaining, and that the agency committed an Unfair Labor Practice by unilaterally imposing this change, After questioning them several times on how many hours were available, etc. and not getting satisfactory answers, Chapter 14 grieved management’s decision.
Chapter 14 Leaders convene to discuss the unfair practice by management in Saint Louis
Ellen Reis - Initial Grievance
Patrick Patton - Initial Grievance
As you are aware this case was taken to arbitration. Our argument was that the OT assignments should have been done based on language in the contract and the CSA at that time, which was by seniority. We also argued that there were no set number of hours and never had been. The call site always let all volunteers work regardless of when their tour of duty ended, and still did even under this two hour rule. The only time there was a limit on the number of people who could work was on Saturdays. So why wouldn’t the person who gets off at 4pm not be able to work 4 hours of OT when we’re open until 8pm? Or why couldn’t the person who got off at 6 work until 8 and still work Saturday too? Someone had to do it, the hours still had to be paid. What right did management have in limiting your OT hours? The phone demand was there, which management could not deny. However, management did deny that they had always let everyone work. They also denied that it wasn’t an unlimited amount of hours for the OT, but yet they could never come up with a specific amount.
Although the arbitrator brought the agency’s argument of having a limited number of hours, there was still a ruling to make the harmed employees whole (resolution). The arbitrator found that this topic was covered by the National Agreement and by the 1999 Customer Service Agreement. The union argued in the alternative that the overtime caps were an inequitable distribution of overtime under the agreements because it ignored seniority in OT assignments. The arbitrator agreed, citing the parties’ understanding that honoring seniority was a factor in equitable distribution. IRS appealed the arbitrator’s decision with the FLRA, but lost. He saw the high senior employees as the ones who were harmed. Buying the agency’s argument that there were a limited amount of hours, he ruled that had the lower senior people not been allowed to work, the higher senior people would have earned more. The settlement agreement had to be based on that ruling. Because the arbitrator decided that senior employees were deprived of overtime opportunities based on the agency’s limitation of overtime for everyone, those employees had to be made whole consistent with the arbitrator’s ruling. Those senior employees who worked the most amount of overtime in 2010, were identified as the affected class of employees, since they were the most likely to have worked more overtime if provided the opportunity; however, that opportunity was denied based on management’s failure to distribute overtime contemplating seniority. The result of this award is that the IRS will pay over 4,400 hours to over eighty (80) employees at their 2010 overtime rate. Chapter 14 would like to give a special Thank You to Stewards Ellen Reis and Patrick Patton for doing the initial work on this grievance so we could move it on to arbitration for this awesome Victory!